Libation

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(for Kamau Brathwaite)

He cracked the bottle open
and splashed a mouthful on the ground,
before pouring rum into our plastic cups.
“Por los Orishas?” and he nodded in reply.
So we drank it quietly in his company.

I wouldn’t do it here, but understood this gift
to the spirits and the forebears who provide
a deep sense of engagement with their story
and their land before the slavers came to take
those kidnapped from their home across the sea.

That simple act’s not wasteful, it showed he had respect
for those who went before him and made it possible to be
the artist he was now, bringing music to our shore
from that island that’s so famous for its rhythms,
not forgetting the sugar, rum and fine tobacco.

I’m not at all religious, nor spiritual one bit,
but there are times and places when we may be given
a connection to reality that’s wider than our own,
so it’s good then to recognise that there are different bonds
that join us to the earth and to others.

rs 7-8.2.20

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